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February is the time I need to dig deep in terms of motivation – of course the days are getting longer – but getting up in the dark, and the long evenings have started to take their toll a so I need to make sure I get outside as much as I can during the day to get my vitamin D fix and boost my mood. 

The one truth that is a constant for me is – I’ll always feel better after a walk. Sometimes just knowing this fact is annoying. Sometimes I just want to sit in a fug in the warm and not get outside. I tell myself I need to stay indoors, I that I don’t feel up to it, that I’ll go for a longer walk tomorrow. That I need another cup of tea (and a biscuit) instead.  But I know that’s all rubbish. Actually, the procrastination is the sign of how much I need to get outside, not the opposite. It’s the red flag telling me I need to move! So once I’ve done the hard part – put my boots on and left the house, the walk always turns out to be the best decision I’ve made and as a consequence the rest of the day is much easier. Frustratingly this appears to be a lesson my brain can only remember for one day at a time at this time of year. Tomorrow if it’s dull and drizzly out, I’m just as likely to have to talk myself into it all over again. But that again is proof of why it’s needed!

So what does a walk do for me?

First it boosts my energy. I may have told myself I’m too tired – but actually what I am is someone who has been sitting at a desk too long – and that isn’t the same thing at all. 

It lifts my mood because of course walking releases endorphins. Studies have shown the walking in the morning can boost energy levels for the rest of the day, which means I can focus better when I get back from my walk on whatever else I need to do.

And spending time in nature means I can slow my busy whirring mind down. Because if I walk and notice what is around me, then it becomes a mindful activity. I’m not thinking about all the things left to do on my list. I’m just right here, right now, in the moment enjoying some bird song, or noticing everything budding in the hedgerow. 

So it reduces stress and anxiety and lifts my spirits. 

And the benefits of the walk are long lasting. It means I’ll sleep better too. It’s been found that people who are exposed to greater amounts of light during daylight hours fall asleep quicker in at night and have fewer sleep disturbances. 

One of the things I love hearing from guests is how well you’ve all slept and how many walks you’ve enjoyed. Lots of you ask to borrow OS maps while you’re here and go off for big adventures, but even if you just enjoy a walk around the farm itself – it all has the same effect.  And of course one of the other big benefits of being here is that you are forced to spend time without screens – and that makes a huge difference. Yes, you still have your phones, we don’t forcibly remove them from you when you arrive, but we know that many of you choose to take our advice and turn them off for the few days you’re here, so you can really rest your body and recharge your brain.  Check out this month’s book review – Disconnected – to see more on this theme!

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